Resolutions. They can be so overwhelming. The very word itself implies that something is wrong and needs to be resolved. I don’t believe that we need to be fixed, which is why I shy away from making resolutions, as such. That being said, I have been focused on the things I want to let go of from 2015, and the things I want to focus on in the year to come. And yet, something has been bugging me. It seems to be a common theme amongst my friends and myself. We’re feeling the effects of the Holiday Hangover, and the long year ahead is starting to seem a bit more daunting than exciting.
Change can be overwhelming, especially when coupled with such a big expectation to change. It’s everywhere we turn - on TV, social media, ads, even my blog! Of course I’m excited about change, but today I wanted to talk a bit about the darker side of things and how to deal with setbacks when they inevitably show up in our lives. (And why they’re actually a sign that you’re growing.)
Plateaus are normal. They are a natural part of growth, and can teach us a lot about where we need to tweak our plan. The thing is, they feel so BIG when they show up. Like maybe it’s time to turn back? I gave it a fair shot and I’m still not noticing any changes, that little voice whispers. Or hell, I feel worse. What’s the point?
I’ve been feeling this way lately in a few areas of my life. I’ve been doing paperwork to move to the US and get my work permit for over a year now, and just when I thought it would be approved, it was postponed. This means that I have to delay working with clients, and of course it sets me back financially. Then I lost a bunch of Instagram followers (#firstworldproblems, I know), and I just felt dejected. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it feels like it. It’s not worth it, that voice says again. It makes me wonder if I should just get a “real job” and give up on my dreams.
BUT - and this is a big but - I’ve learned that while setbacks feel really big, they usually just require a shift in focus in order to break through. Rather than getting caught up in my own melancholy, I can allow the feelings to be there, but still take the action I need to move forward. If I detach from the “woe is me” aspect and instead ask myself, “what do I need in order to move forward?” I can tune into my intuition and hone my plan.
The thing is, setbacks are actually a sign of growth.
They are a signal that we have moved out of our comfort zones and into growth. And now the primitive parts of our brains are fighting back. They’re saying whoa, that was uncomfortable. Can we go back to what we’re used to now?
We all have a comfort level, a sort of internal gauge. If yours is usually set to “average”, then as soon as you blast out of it and hit “awesome!”, a part of you is inevitably going to fight back. No matter how great the changes are. The thing is, it takes time to integrate these new aspects of yourself, and the times when you’re feeling a plateau or setback are when you’ve made progress. The pushback is your Small Self (ego) trying to keep you in your comfort zone. And that is totally ok! That’s it’s job. It’s going to second guess why you’re trying to change in the first place. You don’t need to change, it will say. It’ll come up with excuses. You never really wanted that anyway. This is a completely normal stage of growth. The discomfort, the plateaus, the cravings, and the meltdowns are all signs of growth.
It’s up to you to continue moving forward and pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. That’s how you grow. That’s how you really, truly create lasting change.
It’s funny. Each time I go through this, it feels like it’s happening for the very first time. Even though I have successfully initiated change in many areas of my life, my ego continues to fight back when I try something new. I know I can get through it, and that I will. When I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, I turn to my support network (friends, family, and particularly my husband) to remind me of how far I have come, and of the adventures that lie ahead. That is a truly priceless piece of the process of change.